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back to article Degenerate dwarfs tear neighbors limb from limb

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a pair of white dwarf stars who have been "polluted" by planet-building elements that they have shredded and consumed. White dwarfs – also known as degenerate dwarf stars – are the aging remnants of middle-sized stars that have cooled and collapsed upon themselves. Due to that …

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Anonymous Coward

FTFY

Well, a teaspoon of white-dwarf material would weigh several metric tons explode violently without the gravitational pull of the rest of the star to keep the atoms in electron degeneracy.

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Joke

@David

The real question though; will it also help the medicine go down?

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@ShelLuser

There are no molecules at a WD, that severely restricts the choice of medicines.

Only elemental iodine as a disinfectant comes to mind.

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Mushroom

Re: FTFY

Damn, thought this was a PORG fight from the title.....

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Headmaster

"Well, a teaspoon of white-dwarf material would weigh several metric tons – or tonnes, if you'd prefer."

It's not what I prefer - it's how it's spelt.

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Boffin

Units,,,

There are two units of mass - the ton and the tonne.

They are quite similar, but not the same. It's not a question of spelling, but when one is talking about several of them per teaspoon you can take your pick.

In ElReg units...

1 ton is ~ 215 jugs

1 tonne is ~ 238 jugs

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Headmaster

Re: Units,,,

No, the article refers to metric tons or tonnes, which is quite correct. In old money a tonne is ~2,209 pounds, while a US (short) ton is 2,000 pounds and a (British) Imperial ton is 2,240 lbs (or 20 hundredweights, 80 quarters, 160 stones - it's easy to tell who started school before 1970).

Any way the teaspoon isn't intended to be a precise unit so distinguishing between the different ton(ne)s isn't really relevant - and like most kitchen measures it differs between US and British kitchens (dunno why, perhaps the pilgrim fathers took a smaller set of spoons).

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h3
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Re: Units,,,

There is no metric ton.

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Headmaster

Re: Units,,,

"Any way the teaspoon isn't intended to be a precise unit"

Clearly you don't cook/bake much.

1 Teaspoon [metric] = 5 millilitres = 0.000005 cubic metres

1 Teaspoon [UK] = 1/8 fluid ounce [UK]

1 Teaspoon [US] = 1/6 fluid ounce [US]

1 Teaspoon [metric] = 1.4078031891 Teaspoon [UK]

1 Teaspoon [metric] = 1.014420681 Teaspoon [US]

1 Teaspoon [UK] = 0.7205699553 Teaspoon [US]

Is that precise enough for you?

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Coat

Re: Units,,,

This is not the Teaspoon you are looking for

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Joke

teaspoon

to quote spoon boy - There is no spoon

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Anonymous Coward

Yawn

Shouldn't that be "spelled", seeing as how the author is an American writing for an international website...?

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Thumb Down

Re: Yawn

No.

American spelling irregularities != International

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Happy

Oh Noooooooes Only 4 *billion* years left.

I don't think I'll give up on the human race just yet.

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Holmes

Re: Oh Noooooooes Only 4 *billion* years left.

But if we don't stop squabbling about how to get off this rock, we're going to run out of time (and construction projects practically always overrun, so there's added urgency!).

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Boffin

Re: Oh Noooooooes Only 4 *billion* years left.

Don't worry, after 2 billion years there won't be any human race. Evolution is going to see too that, I have no idea what is going to be replace the human race in the future.

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Re: Oh Noooooooes Only 4 *billion* years left.

Don't worry, in two billion years, the Earth will be experiencing 20% greater thermal input from the sun and evolution will be a moot point.

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Re: Oh Noooooooes Only 4 *billion* years left.

But probably not long until the next big asteroid hits.

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Re: Oh Noooooooes Only 4 *billion* years left.

"Don't worry, in two billion years, the Earth will be experiencing 20% greater thermal input from the sun and evolution will be a moot point."

Don't worry, in no more than about ONE billion years, the rise in the Sun's luminosity will have boiled off all the Earth's oceans.

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

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Angel

Re: Dwarfs that collapse

Eadon thread hijack LOL!

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This post has been deleted by its author

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Degenerate Dwarf?

Perhaps I don't get out enough, but I've never heard a "white dwarf" called a "degenerate dwarf before", not least because a neutron star has a good claim to being called a degenerate dwarf. (Perhaps a better name for a white dwarf would be an electron star?) And the author pretty much admits to making up the term "...white dwarfs (in these pages, white dwarfs are generally called degenerate dwarfs)...".

But more important than whether it's right or not, it's bloody annoying.

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Re: Degenerate Dwarf?

It's standard astronomical parlance to talk about a white dwarf consisting of degenerate matter. A degenerate (white) dwarf is a bit of a tautology, but it sure sounds funny.

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Re: Degenerate Dwarf?

Burers!

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Re: Degenerate Dwarf?

Its the 8th Dwarf that the other 7 disowned

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asteroids dont spiral down

asteroids like anything else in free fall are satellites that orbit ... and orbits are ellipses not spirals. the only way for something to spiral down would be for it to lose kinetic energy somehow but that doesnt really occur in space.

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Red Giant phase

In the last stages of a low mass star (like the sun), it will become a red giant before it collapses into a white dwarf. During this phase there will be a lot of solar atmosphere out to a distance similiar to earths orbit.

For asteroids inside this gas cloud, there will be friction leading to a loss of kinetic energy. This might be sufficient to cause them to lose enough energy to spiral in to the star.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Meh

Attributions for graphics / images.

Please consider stopping publishing them without any, e.g. the asteroid graphic in this article, which has none in the visible text or in the source (just a link to an internal regmedia JPEG). The fact that the graphic is present in the linked in page on the NASA site is not really good enough, and i've seen too many on here where there is no link between the two at all. It is far too common at El Reg - kindly mind your manners or i'll have to set Orlowski on you... what do you think they are - orphan works ?

Thank you.

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Query

I don't quite get the thrust of this article. The sun and the planets, in any system are all developed from the same dust cloud and therefore have identical mixes. The only difference, in practical terms is that the planets are drastically impoverished in the light elements, hydrogen and helium, particularly in the inner orbits, having lost this in the creation of the planet in it's particular orbit

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Re: Query

Is the distribution "identical"? Are elements spread throughout the dust cloud evenly? (Think gravity etc)

Once a planetoids forms, are elements free to escape (hydrogen etc) or do they "rain" in with further impacts (iron rich asteroids etc)?

I would think there are many factors involved that would change the distribution of the compositions. :)

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WTF?

White Dwarf

Massive degenerate white dwarf? Dense remnant of a middle-aged body that has collapsed in on itself? Jeez! I thought for a minute this article was about me!

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Re: White Dwarf

I'm working on my own version of red giant stage.

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DJV
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Degenerate dwarfs

I blame Snow White...

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